By MELISSA MEYER
Published May 19, 2023
UB’s ninth annual Giving Day last month saw a record number of donations and participation, but the first-ever challenge in support of the LGBTQ Faculty Staff Association stood out among the many challenges and donation opportunities during the 24-hour celebration of giving.
Some 183 donors supporting the LGBTQ FSA unlocked multiple challenges and raised a total of $11,195 — making the FSA the fourth-most supported area on Giving Day behind the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of Management and Athletics. Prior to 2023, the FSA’s largest donation was $3,000.
The mission of the UB’s LGBTQ FSA is to contribute to and support a welcoming and inclusive university community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer faculty and staff through education, networking and advocacy. The volunteer executive board is led by full-time faculty and staff.
Ben Fabian, associate director in the Office of the Dean of Students and president of the LGBTQ FSA, described the Giving Day campaign to raise funds for the organization as “a grassroots movement created by (a number of) staff in University Advancement to harness support for LGBTQ+ colleagues, peers and students into action.”
Kara O’Neil, prospect research analyst in University Advancement, organized the challenge.
“This challenge was in reaction to the anti-trans speaker on campus this year, and also to the larger pattern of anti-trans and anti-queer violence and oppression that we are seeing across the country, like bans on books, drag performances, gender-affirming health care, and so much more,” O’Neil said. “These kind of policies and rhetoric are extremely dangerous, and that is not the kind of society I want to live in, or want my friends and family to live in. We all have a responsibility to take a stand against oppression.”
With Giving Day “around the corner,” she worked with colleagues in Advancement to find donors willing to support a challenge for the LGBTQ FSA.
“Working in Advancement,” O’Neil explained, “we see the powerful impact that philanthropy has at UB every day, so I was not surprised that many of our colleagues were enthusiastic about the challenge.”
During the first four hours of Giving Days, 100 donors to the challenge unlocked a $4,000 contribution, setting off a second challenge of 150 total donors for an additional $1,000. The total number of donors surpassed the challenge, with 183 unique individuals contributing to the challenge.
One of those donors was Thomas McArthur, associate vice president for alumni engagement and annual giving and a member of the LGBTQ FSA, who made a personal gift in support of the challenge.
“It remains a very difficult time to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community, especially for members who are trans,” McArthur said. “I am grateful that members of our division stepped up to show their support. It means a lot to see so many people show up to support our community.”
Joseph DiDomizio, senior director of communications and content strategy in University Advancement, chose to support the LGBTQ FSA on Giving Day as well. “It is important to me to have a strong and supportive community for everyone who works at and attends UB,” DiDomizio said. “With the recent speakers on campus, it highlighted the need to show that support. Giving to the LGBTQ FSA is one the of the ways I know I will make a difference on campus.”
Added Fabian: “If the $11,000+ raised in 24 hours can seed the development of a LGBTQ+ resource center, that would be a bold and exciting step.”